By Cian Molloy - 01 March, 2020
Places on a Laudato Si’ workshop, due to take place in Carlow next Wednesday, have completely sold out, such is the level of interest in Pope Francis’s environmental encyclical and how people can take practical steps to respond to climate change.
The Church’s overseas aid agency Trócaire is now planning to run similar workshops in other locations across the country during the next 18 months, said the charity’s Laudato Si’ officer Jane Mellett.
“The idea is that we equip parishes to bring Laudato Si’ to life in their local parish communities,” she said. “From Liturgy to Energy!”
Wednesday’s conference at the Dolmen Hotel is mainly targeted at those from parishes in the Kildare and Leighlin, Ossory and Ferns Diocese, but Mellett says that once the event was publicised enquiries started to come in from far and wide.
Speakers include: climatologist Professor John Sweeney talking about ‘From Climate Science to Climate Justice’; Dr Lorna Gold of Trócaire providing an introduction to the contents of Laudato Si’; Pádraic Fogarty of the Irish Wildlife Trust talking about ‘Responding to biodiversity breakdown in Ireland’ and Fr Dermot Lane talking about ‘Ecology and Spirituality in Laudato Si’’.
After lunch there will be a selection of workshops, including: How to become an Eco-Parish and enter the Eco-Parish award scheme; How to create spaces for bio-diversity on church grounds; How to link your parish with local authority events such as National Tree Week; How to conduct an energy audit of Church buildings and How to access community grants for eco-projects.
St Anne’s Parish in Shankill, Co. Dublin, will make a presentation on their ecumenical environmental initiative run in conjunction with St James’s Church of Ireland Parish, Crinken.
Since 2016, these two parishes have worked together to promote Lenten energy conservation initiatives, promote Earthwatch Day, host lectures on climate change and scripture and work together to promote initiatives such as Tidy Towns and Save our Cliffs, as well as devising new nature walks. After conducting an energy audit, St Anne’s replaced their boiler with a more energy-efficient heating system and have switched their lighting to long-lasting, low-energy LEDs.
The two South Dublin parishes have also worked to build stronger relationships with people in the developing world and as part of this they have twinned with Makiungu Parish in Tanzania and have organised parish collections for overseas charities and missionary organisations.
Published by Pope Francis in 2015, Laudato Si’ was the first encyclical letter to be addressed to the whole world, rather than just the Catholic faithful. It is subtitled: ‘On the care of our common home’.
“There is a lot of interest in this first workshop,” said Mellett. “Those taking part include parish volunteers, parish priests, bishops and school green teams – we have 20 young people and their teachers attending.”
Keep an eye out for future Laudato Si’ workshops taking place at a venue near you.